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Lee gets first win in six starts

ATLANTA (AP) -- After facing only four Atlanta Braves batters,
Cliff Lee had given up three hits and a run, and his pitching coach
was at the mound.

But the Cleveland Indians' left-hander wasn't worried because he
knew he was throwing strikes.

Lee stuck to his strategy and did not walk a batter, winning for
the first time in six starts. Casey Blake hit a tiebreaking homer
to help the Indians beat the slumping Braves 4-2 Friday night in
their first meeting since the 1995 World Series.

"I was throwing strikes and staying ahead; they just happened
to hit some good pitches, I thought," Lee said.

Since a 5-0 start to the season, Lee (6-1) had four no-decisions
and a loss in his previous five starts.

"The won-loss record I can't control," Lee said.

Lee can control balls and strikes. He did not throw more than
two balls to any batter, and 69 of his 89 pitches were strikes. He
gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out seven.

"I'm just trying to throw strikes," Lee said. "I want to get
ahead, stay ahead and put them away as quickly as possible."

Indians manager Eric Wedge said the key for Lee was holding the
Braves to one run in the first inning with "pretty good damage
control."

After his pitching coach, Carl Willis, visited the mound, Lee
gave up only one hit to the next 16 batters.

"He flew from there," Wedge said. "He was ahead in the count
and very efficient with his pitches. I thought the deeper he went
in the game, the better he was."

Lee has allowed no more than three runs in 11 of 13 starts this
season, but his souvenir from Friday night's game was the ball from
his first major league hit -- a sixth-inning single.

"I was just trying not to strike out," Lee said.

Jose Jimenez worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

Blake's leadoff shot against Mike Hampton in the sixth inning
broke a 2-2 tie. The Indians pushed the lead to 4-2 in the eighth
when Ronnie Belliard drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Chris
Reitsma.

With three straight losses and seven in their last 10 games, the
Braves (31-35) are four games under .500 this late in the season
for the first time since 1990. They also matched their low point of
the season.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said his plan is to "ride it out"
because his team is "too good to be losing."

The Braves lost two of three interleague games in three straight
series against Detroit, the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City
before falling in their first regular-season meeting with the
Indians.

Atlanta's Rafael Furcal led off the third inning with his fifth
homer of the season -- and third of the week in interleague play --
for a 2-0 lead.

Hampton (1-7) couldn't hold the early lead. He allowed nine hits
and three runs in 5 2-3 innings.

Hampton was pulled after giving up Blake's homer, two line-drive
outs and a single to Lee in the sixth. Angry as he left the field,
Hampton tossed a water cooler in the dugout.

"It's ugly. I don't think it can get much uglier," Hampton
said. "You prepare yourself in the offseason, you bust your butt
during the season to be successful and you have nothing to show for
it so far. I don't have anyone to blame but myself. I understand
that."

The Indians opened the fourth with three straight hits against
Hampton, including a single by Victor Martinez that drove in Coco
Crisp from second and cut the Braves' lead to 2-1. Lou Merloni
added a sacrifice fly to tie it.

J.D. Drew's one-out double in the sixth was wasted when Chipper
Jones popped out and Lee struck out Andruw Jones on three pitches,
bringing boos from some in the Turner Field crowd of 28,000.

There were more boos when pinch-hitter Mike Hessman struck out
looking following a double by Eli Marrero to end the seventh.

Game notes
Atlanta won the '95 World Series in six games. ...
Cleveland's Matt Lawton extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
... Lee chased Hampton with his first major league hit, a
sixth-inning single to left. In his first at-bat in the third
inning, Lee worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a sharp liner
back at Hampton. The ball hit the heel of Hampton's glove, and
Hampton briefly juggled the ball before making the catch. Lee's
first two interleague starts came at Cleveland, with the designated
hitter rule in play. ... The only team the Braves have never played
is Anaheim.